Thankful for Clearing the Vacation Photo Cache, the Aurora Borealis, & a Joyful Hug from Gavin

Thankful for Clearing the Vacation Photo Cache, the Aurora Borealis, & a Joyful Hug from Gavin

Day 2,251

Growth:

I’m a slow but sure learner sometimes. Over the past handful of vacations I always plan on organizing my photos and videos but it often doesn’t happen. This means that while there’s a pile of memory starters there is also a big pile of near duplicate photos to be deleted.

On our flight back today I focused on cleaning up my photos. They’re all sorted by day, in chronological order, and with the near duplicates and photo fails deleted. Took some songs today but will save a ton of time in the future.

Appreciation:

One of the biggest reasons for heading to Iceland was to see the Northern Lights. The odds of doing so are spotty at best, even in the best of conditions. The clouds fought us the majority of the nights and when it was clear the Aurora Borealis was too shy and stayed away.

Last night while sitting in the hot tub I pulled up the forecast as we looked up at the stars. According to the Aurora app we had an exactly 1% chance of seeing them. Steve laughed and quoted the line from Dumb & Dumber, “so you’re saying there’s a chance!”

After some games we all started to close out our nights. On a whim I decided to walk outside and check one more time. As I turned to the north I was rewarded with a ribbon of light rippling across the sky. I ran inside, grabbed Gavin & Steve, and headed out to enjoy the show.

The really big lights didn’t last very long and some clouds moved in, but we’d accomplished our goal and beaten the 1 in 100 odds.

My dreams were very intense afterwards. Much of it was a reminder to me of the dangers of taking on too much. It reminded me of the importance of saying no more often, of slowing down, and remembering to stay focused on what’s really important to me. It was so intense I woke up in a sweat at 4:41 am.

When I got up I looked out my window and was so shocked at what I saw I didn’t trust myself to wake everyone right away. I quietly snuck out of the house and saw tendrils of light stretching through the night!

I woke everyone up and we spent well over an hour in astonishment and joy watching the lights. We took photos, we just looked up in awe, and enjoyed every single minute until it started to dwindle. I’m still awestruck at what we witnessed.

I am so grateful for our luck and our timing.

Presence:

Last night and again early this morning as we watched the Northern Lights there was a very specific moment I’ll remember forever. Amongst the spectacular light show Gavin put an arm around me and pulled me in close. “We did it! Thanks for bringing me to Iceland!” You betcha buddy, happy to have created these memories with you.

Thanks!!!

Thankful for Being Humbled By and Learning From Loss

Day 2,128

Our LuLu is definitely showing her age more and more quickly each day. She’s got some serious elbow issues that are causing a great deal of pain. The vet has her on a few doses of pain pills to help until we figure out if there’s any viable way to help her get healthy-ish.

LuLu has quickly brought the specter of loss into my life again. In many ways I know Death awaits us all, but when it gets close enough to sense it feels like a whole different level of awareness.

This evening I couldn’t help but chuckle at a somber realization that here I am, my book about grief just about to be published, and I’m humbled the impending sense of loss. We haven’t even gotten the worst of news, yet the feeling of loss is already catching like wildfire… and it feels wildly humbling. There is zero control I have in this part of the future, I have a similar feeling to being in Iceland alongside the mountains – I am so powerless and insignificant compared to the power of death and of nature.

While this feels (& sounds) very dark in many levels, there’s also an appreciation for the sensation buried down deep past the emotions. If I allow myself to look into the abyss of loss and don’t struggle in futility to gain control the sense of being completely humbled can feel oddly comforting and centering. I can only control how I respond, how i react, and how I process the moment. Truly letting go and accepting the lack of control, the tremendous powerlessness allows me to more clearly focus on choosing my response, how I frame the loss, and how I find purpose in the loss. It still hurts like hell, but there is a faint glimmer to be found when I look deeply enough for it.

We feel the fullest loss for those who we’ve loved most. The more the hurt, the more the love there’s been. As someone put it when Dad was dying, “don’t be sad for what you’ve lost, rejoice and be grateful for what you’ve had.”

As I laid next to LuLu on the deck, snuggled with her, and rubbed her belly I was on used on all we’ve been blessed to enjoy together. She’s brought me so many smiles, so much joy, and more love than I’d dreamt possible from a furry companion. LuLu has created so many awesome memories I will cherish forever and continue to talk with family about for as long as I’m blessed to walk the earth. I’m so fortunate for all the love she’s given in our years and years together.

I’m thinking back to what I learned from losing Dad I’m also reminded to more deeply appreciate each moment I get with her. She’s not gone yet, and who knows, she could still be with us for a very long time. One of the beauties of loss (& yes, I just said that) is the reminder it provides us to appreciate each moment we have. The specter of loss may be looming, but it doesn’t have to create shade.

As the old saying goes, “the nature of rain is the same, but it makes thorns grow in the marshes and flowers in the gardens.

Tonight I’m choosing to embrace the specter of loss. I will use it to create flowers in the garden of now until my tears water the flowers of tomorrow.

Thanks!!!

Thankful for Glimpses of the Power of Purpose

Day 2,054

As I prep for bed and conduct my daily ritual of blogging my mind is going in a couple of different directions for my blog. There are a few distinct appreciations which all seem to flow into a common theme. Just a heads up, this is all going to sound familiar as the path is one I’ve traveled recently.

Starting my morning yesterday with an early morning hike with Becky was outstanding. To share time in the woods with her while we both take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the outdoors is something I enjoy immensely. Amongst all I do in life this type of activity hovers continually near the top. Not only does it provide moments of awe and wonder leading to extreme presence, but I get to share it with my best friend and soulmate. Doing what we love while sharing in that love together is something I do not take for granted. We are so fortunate to have the common love and appreciation of nature. Those times together hiking the trails, whether exploring a new to us National Park or wandering the same old trail for the ten thousandth time, are one of the ways I re-charge, refresh, and refill my reservoir of energy. By taking that time to the two of us I have the strength and energy to live into my sense of purpose and am much more likely to live more closely into the person I am called to be – it helps me work on the gap. All the while my heart is filled with tremendous joy.

This morning I spent a lot of time with a teammate I haven’t had a ton of one on one time with. The entire experience was incredibly enlightening as well as a ton of fun. I was able to learn so much about her, hear about her motivations, her dreams, and her story. Throughout I kept thinking about how this was exactly where I was supposed to be at that time. Hearing her share her experiences helped me see how we’ve made progress towards living into our purpose while simultaneously providing an opportunity to dream a bigger and better vision of what living that purpose could look like. It was a conversation which will leave lasting fingerprints on our future.

During the day there was a moment in which I took a couple of actions which I would have most likely skipped in the past. Before I could help myself I was leaping into action and unaware of moving myself outside of my comfort zone. The action itself was taken because it was necessary based on purpose, on our why. So many times in the past I’ve taken action more for ego’s sake, if I’m completely honest with myself. This time was 100% for the cause, to protect the purpose. I was reminded afterwards of a comment from Tribal Leadership: the right purpose, the right reason, they work through us. This was a moment in which the purpose warranted action and action was taken immediately. Afterwards a passing conversation in an elevator showed me the importance of the action. Purpose caused necessary action which wouldn’t have otherwise happened.

Purpose, such a powerful thing. It is truly humbling, each time I feel like I’m understanding the power of purpose more I quickly realize how little about the power of purpose I truly know. Each time I start to get a glimpse I quickly see there is so much more than what I am getting a glimpse of. What a beautiful journey this has been and will continue to be!

Thanks!!!

Thankful for Gavin’s First Track Meet

Day 2,031

After the rained out meet last week Gavin had his first track meet today in Westby. Dominic has had track for the past handful of years (& did an awesome job of exceeding his 400m goal at his meet tonight!), but this was a first for Gavin as we let him do both soccer and track this Spring.

Gavin totally crushed it and ran his butt off! He took 2nd place in the 1,600m (one mile) by hammering down in his last 200m to blow past one of the two people ahead of him. It was awesome!!!

He also did very well in the shot put and gave his relay team the after finishing the first leg of their 4×400 relay. O

Overall he did very well, and, more importantly, he was smiling the entire night! So much fun watching him try something new and see how his hard work can pay off 😁👍

Thanks!!!

Thankful for a Beautiful Winter Run in the Spring and Making Maple Syrup

Day 2,028

This morning Becky and I went for our long training run for the week. When Becky picked our half marathon it was in the hopes of being able to get some nice trail runs in with some nice Spring weather. As we all know now, that hasn’t really been the case. Due to Mother Nature’s insistence on extending Winter we’ve had neither trail runs (too wet & muddy) nor nice weather (unless you really enjoy 20+ mph winds and temperatures below 20).

The run this morning started off ridiculously frigid as we ran directly into the stiff wind as the snow pelted us in the face. I, as the big dumb animal I sometimes am known to be, opted for shorts in this 20 degree weather which felt like 9 including wind chill. Not my brightest move. The first couple of miles were pretty rough.

Becky had the idea to take a gravel side road through the woods to cut down on the wind. We were immediately significantly warmer due to the woods breaking up the gusts of wind. The road we were on went alongside the Jump River intermittently and gave us some spectacular scenery. There were several turkeys, ducks, pheasants, and a pair of turkey vultures joining us occasionally. At one point Becky and I had a couple of horses in a field joining us from their side of the fence. Everything was so peaceful and chill, it was exactly why I enjoy getting into the woods. I was realizing how the “marathon monks” are really onto the right idea with the running meditations. My favorite part of the scenery was a specific bend in the Jump River. The woods opened up and the river was on full display with a high embankment on the other side making it feel a lot like being up in the UP of Michigan (which we’re really not that far from). It was awesome!

Yes, the weather and conditions were less than ideal. That said, as is the case with anything in life, it is up to each of us to choose where we put our focus and the lens through which we view the world around us. I chose to focus on the beauty of the outdoors, the time in the woods, and the appreciation of doing something out in the wild with Becky. Totally one of my favorite activities in the world.

After we got back and showered up I had an opportunity to help my in laws make maple syrup. They were kind enough to save about 50 gallons of sap to boil down specifically with us. The timing hasn’t worked out in the past for us to help and participate in this activity in the past, I was so pumped to help out this time around!

The entire process was incredible to experience. The time and energy it took to boil out all the water out of the sap to go from 50 gallons of sap to just over a gallon of syrup was wild! Throughout we took out samples, tested the sugar content, and kept the sap boiling. In addition to the fun of observing the process I got a ton of bonus time with my father in law, always something I appreciate. Having the opportunity to shoot the bull with him was awesome, he had me smiling and laughing the entire time. I can’t begin to put into words how much I appreciate my father in law, he’s amazing in so many ways!

Being able to say I helped to make syrup still has me smiling. Each time I gobble up some maple syrup I’ll be sure to remember all the work that goes into making it and will be even more grateful for everyone who made it for us.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,995 – Thankful for Awesome Acts of Kindness by Teammates

I’m not sure what happened, but there were a couple of onion cutting ninjas running about our office this afternoon. When I went to sit down for our team meeting I couldn’t find where to sit as all the seats were full except for one that had a plant and card in front of it. My teammates must’ve seen me struggling with the math and told me to sit at the seat with this in front of it:

Talk about incredibly thoughtful. The ninjas started cutting onions and my eyes started to water to the point I had to walk out of the room. They must’ve cut more onions later as I looked at the card and the plant while alone in my office. One of them even snuck into the car and went to work while I drove.

For reals, what an awesome act of kindness from the team. My entire family enjoyed the card and plant, it created many hugs and watery eyes. I’m beyond blessed to have such loving and caring people in my life.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,993 – Thankful for Family Helping Each Other Through Grief

Our boxer, Skywalker, passed away suddenly today after doing her favorite thing, going for a walk with Becky and LuLu (Skywalker’s sister). The loss of one of our family was very much unexpected and rough for everyone in our home. It still feels very surreal and seems to hit each of us at different times.

The boys and I were up at Mom’s when we got the call from Becky. We quickly realized that the right place for us to be at that moment was home with Becky and LuLu. Huge thanks and appreciation to Mom for understanding our need to cut our trip very short. Our ride home was brutal, each of us dealing with the sudden loss. The two hour drive seemed to last three times that long.

Once home we spent time together in the living room snuggling with LuLu and looking through old pictures and videos of Skywalker. From there we all just crashed on the couches and fired up a movie while snuggling with LuLu. Pretty soon I’ll be off to bed.

Tomorrow we’ll start our first day without Sky around sharing her positive energy with us right away in the morning. At least we will continue helping each other through the loss as a family. As difficult as it is to suffer loss, I am so thankful for our ability to help each other through it as a family.

Thanks!!!

Day 1,990 – Thankful for Surreal Moments, My Brother-In-Law Curling in the Paralympics

I’m a huge fan of getting enough sleep each night. Sleep is one of my favorites, no question. Now, that said, I have not been sleeping well at all lately. And it has been 100% on purpose. Why on earth would I sacrifice my sleep when I value it so much? The answer is pretty simple and totally surreal.

My brother-in-law, Matt, is the Skip of the Team USA Wheelchair Curling crew in the 2022 Paralympics in Beijing! A couple of quick clicks and we had access to watch all of his Paralympic curling matches live and on our TV. Talk about wild, we are watching Matt curl on our Living room TV!

Being able to watch “Uncle Matt” living out his Olympic dreams has been awesome. Completely surreal, and totally amazing. We’re all having so much fun watching him and Team USA compete with best countries in the world.

Thanks for letting us hitch a ride on your dream Matt!!!

Thanks!!!

Day 1,989 – Thankful for Sharing Many Moments of Joy, Love, and Beauty

What a fulfilling day on so many levels. Seemingly around each corner was an opportunity to grow, to love, to support, to help, or to feel incredible sense of purpose. Not everything went as planned, but even the things that didn’t happen as expected presented opportunities for beauty, love, and joy.

When I stopped at Caribou Coffee to pick up some drinks for my team I was presented a new opportunity. The cashier was hearing impaired and smiled and pointed to the whiteboard. This was a first for me and it was an experience I’ll never forget.

Without spoken language we communicated the order for six drinks with various intricacies. We laughed together at various times, helped each other through hand motions, and shared so many smiles together as we proceeded through the transaction. At one point when she was trying to help me answer a question she resorted to wrapping her arms around herself and acting like she was shivering. “Iced!” I proclaimed with glee and a giggle. It was amongst the most pleasant and joyful customer experiences I’ve ever had.

As a writer and speaker I’m a huge fan of words to communicate. In many ways they are the tool of my trade, my most trusted implement. With the inability to use them it was interesting to see how quickly we were able to adapt and still make a connection. At a deep and primal level it helped me see that we are all truly wired for love.

There were so many other moments which touched my soul. Receiving coaching from teammates, listening to friends, seeing how past mistakes were translated into learning which was passed on as wisdom. Seeing how different we all are as people and yet how perfectly similar we all are. Recognizing our shared anxieties and helping each other through them. Realizing a profound sense of purpose in both helping others and in receiving help. Sharing in our humanity, sharing love and joy even in, and especially in, moments of pain and frustration.

If today were my last day upon the earth I would go into the next completely peaceful and knowing I’d spent much of my last day of this life witnessing the beauty, joy, and love we are all capable of.

Thanks!!!